Friday, August 15, 2008

the default

Daniel saw the bottle of wine on the table at dinner tonight.

"That's wine," he said, pointing.

"Yes, that's wine," I said.

"I want some wine," he said.

"That's for Mommy and Daddy," Steve said. "You can't have wine until you're 21."

"Or maybe you can have a little glass at dinner when you're older," I said, with a pointed glance at Steve.

To Steve I added, "Please, I hope you won't be one of those parents who refuses to let his kids have a few sips of wine every once in a while."

And I realized I'd slipped into the default again — the assumption that I won't be there. It's the way my mind has been tilting for a couple of months now. The boys as teenagers. Learning to ride a bike. The first day of school. I have to force myself to reimagine the scenario with myself in it. I do force myself. I don't want the default visualization to win. But it is the default. It's where my mind goes automatically. I wish it weren't so.

* * *

Later, Steve and I watched the seventh and final episode of the incredibly fascinating HBO miniseries John Adams. It was a sad episode: John and Abigail's daughter, Nabby, dies of breast cancer. Then old age catches up, and Abigail dies, and finally John himself, and Thomas Jefferson on the same day. Watching John and Abigail together after so many years of marriage, holding each other as they mourned their daughter's death, I said to Steve (with tears in my eyes), "That's how I've always imagined us as an old couple, still loving each other and supporting each other after so many years together." But I'm afraid we won't get to that place I've dreamed of. It's the default again.

I couldn't stop crying after we finished watching John Adams. Steve and I went into the boys' room and watched them sleep. Daniel was tossed and tousled on his race car bed, his limbs flung out in every direction. Ben lay in his crib with his arms over his head, the way Daniel used to sleep. Steve put an arm around me while I wept, and I wondered how much longer I will have to love them, these three guys who fill my heart.

16 comments:

battynurse said...

Lurker here and I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I wish I had something more helpful to offer but you and your family are in my thoughts and I hope that someday you will be sitting there old, with your husband looking back on this.

Anonymous said...

Emilie, you have forever to love them. Nothing can take away that love. Not a thing.

The "default", too, is useful for us all to use, though it's a little depressing. We can expect to be around to watch our kids age and then fall into a daily trap of taking life for granted, or we can expect we won't be-- and that helps us appreciate every moment that we're here to watch our loved ones.

--Laura S.

Rebecca said...

I just don't have words today, Emilie. My heart is just broken. We are sending our love. I hope that helps.

Jen J said...

I pray that you get your dream! That you & Steve will be old together and be able to make out like crazy kids in love when you're in your 80's! Like Laura says though - love never dies.

Prayers coming your way! God Bless!

Jessica Griffith said...

I agree with Laura. Your love for your boys will outlive you, no matter how long you live. And that love will continue--we all are products of parental love down the line, and the love you have for your boys will shape them and the kind of men they become.

Alex said...

Your posts are beautiful written and painfully honest. You have the ability for a mother and wife to feel how you're feeling from your words. Sad, scared, proud, loved, loving...you have an amazing gift for writing.

I sincerely pray that you get your chance to grow old with your boys. I can see how strong they are helping you be. You're very lucky to have each other.

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful post. so elegantly written and so true to your thoughts. i don't think having that default is a bad thing. certainly, if there was a book on this process, it would be one of the stages. i mean to say it's normal. i go there a lot. i used to fault myself for going there but i don't anymore. i think Laura is right, look at it for how to make today better. tat's all we ever have is today.

Josh

Heidi said...

I know everyone thinks you should "think positive" and "visualize" what you're wishing for, but I think the kind of "default" thinking you're talking about is completely normal human nature. We all try to prepare ourselves for the worst so we'll be readier to handle it, if it happens. But there is a line between normal self-protection and negative thoughts that aren't helpful. You're smart to notice it, then stop and intentionally trying to visualize the more positive scenario. This can apply to other difficult life situations, too. I'm learning so much from you, Emelie.

SeaStar said...

Emilie, I find myself checking your blog almost daily, thinking about you and your family severa times a day, hoping against your default thoughts. I so hope you and Steve do get to grow old together. I see your story from a different angle because my girls' daddy did die of his cancer when they were five and nine. Not at all what we hoped for as a family, and yet his love has remained with us, shaped us always. It isn't like he wasn't here. He is so much part of all of us today, so important still and always in the story that is our family.

CrazyTiredMomma said...

I had to comment after reading your post. I think that the things you're talking about are real fears for so many people. I know that I don't like thinking about what I'll miss when I'm gone. I've only been reading your blog for a short time, but I appreciate the candor you use to talk about your situation. I cannot imagine exactly how you are feeling, but it seems like you sum up how I think I would be feeling if I were in your shoes. Praying for you and your family.

Beth said...

My fear after having children (I luckily managed to conceive after my osteosarcoma)was that I would die and they wouldn't remember me, its such a real fear - and very difficult to get out of one's mind. But 24 years after my diagnosis I am still here, and my kids are 19 and 17 - there is hope.
Thinking of you...

Piccinigirl said...

there is always HOPE Em, always. You will be here, I know that in my heart. Yet, I know that the fears are real so I am sending lots of love and hope too.

you filled my heart and eyes with tears this morning. I am just so sorry.

Ahuva Batya said...

I can't be more eloquent than you.To the extent possible, I along with all of your friends and family, take this journey with you and hope against the default. I can only repeat what Laura S. said-- you see things through such special eyes.

D said...

"Steve put an arm around me while I wept, and I wondered how much longer I will have to love them, these three guys who fill my heart." Oh Emilie ~ You will love them forever and forever they will love you. I'm a cribsheet lurker and I just had to leave a comment today. My heart breaks for you and all you must be feeling. Hang in there girlfriend. xoxo darcie

EasyMac said...

Forever, Emilie, you will love them forever.
Kathy

Not on Fire said...

I agree with the others, your love will always be there for them. I am praying for you.